Writing can be a difficult subject to teach and to grade, so I was happy to have the opportunity for Emily to take Fortuigence ‘s Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course. This online writing course for ages 12-18 includes seven lessons that take the student from brainstorming through outlining and drafting to a polished essay. Each lesson includes a short video, a page or two of instructional texts, and some worksheets, outlines, and/or examples that take the student through the process of writing a persuasive essay from beginning to end. The student submits his or her work to a teacher online and is given feedback and guidance at every step of the process. At the conclusion of the course, the student will have completed one essay. The lessons include:
- Introduction and pre-assessment
- Organizing Ideas (Outline)
- Free Writing
- Wrap Up
Most of the lessons had many pages of printable handouts—outlines, rubrics, worksheets, and writing samples. This was actually my favorite aspect of the course. We printed everything out and now have them in a notebook for further reference.
For the first assignment, Emily had to submit a writing sample. We chose to send in a an essay that she had written last spring that was representative of her work. “Mrs. I” responded to tell her that she was a “competent writer,” that she was looking forward to working with her in the course, and to move on to lesson 2.
In Lesson 2, Emily was given a list of possible topics for her persuasive essay. She chose to write about, “Obstacles are a part of life that you have to push through.” She was required to brainstorm about the topic and write down all of her ideas, using a very helpful worksheet that helped her articulate her main point, whether she agreed or disagreed, and three reasons to support her reasoning. After completing this step, she could see that her outline (Lesson 3) was easy to complete, since she had already given the subject quite a bit of thought.
After each lesson, she received feedback from Mrs. I within a day or two. Generally, the feedback was brief, but at one point, she was given some critique of her opening paragraph and was asked to rewrite it before proceeding to the next lesson.
One of the big advantages to me was that someone else was giving Emily instructions and feedback about her writing. Emily likes to write and is great at churning out first drafts, but she hates to revise. It was nice for me to stand back, knowing that she was responsible to someone else for finishing assignments and was being required to go through each step from brainstorming to finished essay. For the most part, she worked on her own. On a couple of occasions, I did suggest that she work a bit more on an assignment before she turned it in. And I was glad that she was required to rework one section. It probably would have been helpful if the teacher had been a little tougher on her at the beginning. She was very encouraging, but I would have liked to see Emily pushed a bit more toward excellence. The only point where I actually helped a bit was on the final editing (punctuation and spelling).
There are four courses in the Rock Star Essay program:
- The Personal Statement
- The Persuasive Essay
- The Expository Essay
- The Textual Analysis
Each course is $57 (or $197 for all four). Completing of all four courses in this homeschool writing program is equivalent to 0.5 English credits. The course is designed for middle to high school students and, while the course assignments are same for all, the teachers guidance and expectations will vary with the writing ability of each particular student.
If you are looking for an outside teacher to help your student gain proficiency in essay writing, the Rock Star Essay program is a good option.